Frank Ockenfels/FX

What Does The Smiley Face Symbol Mean On 'AHS: Cult'? It Could Be A Big Clue About The Clowns

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It’s no big secret that on a show like American Horror Story, you have to take every little detail into account to either get the bigger picture or guess what’s coming next. The same goes for AHS this season and the creepy smiley face that keeps popping up everywhere. But what does the smiley face symbol mean on AHS: Cult? It could be a big clue about the clowns and what their plans are, not just for Ally, but for their other future victims as well.

The first time viewers saw the symbol is when the clowns murdered Ally and Ivy’s neighbors across the street. It was drawn on the door in what could only be the blood of the victims and in Episode 2, Ally could still see its vague shape on the likely repainted door. In the preview for Episode 3, it looks like the smiley face symbol on AHS: Cult might also be an indicator of which victim comes next as a way to put a mark on whoever the clowns will be targeting.

Since it’s clear that they’re targeting Ally and that most of the clowns aren’t born out of her phobia, getting the smiley face mark on her house is no big surprise, but it’s also the third time viewers have seen it so far this season. Since the season’s theme has to do with cults, I can only assume that the clowns are part of some group that is, in fact, an organized cult with a bigger agenda at hand.

AHS creator Ryan Murphy has said that he’s wanted to do a season about the 1960’s Manson Family cult led by Charles Manson, but that since it’s been done so many times before, he wanted to approach it in a different way. If you know anything about the 1969 Manson murders, then you might remember that during the several murders that Manson had ordered his followers to commit in order to start what he called the impending "race war," they used their victims’ blood to write "piggy" or "pig" on the walls and doors, sometimes with an added paw print meant to symbolize and implicate the Black Panthers in the crimes.

Though the smiley face symbol on AHS: Cult isn't an exact replica of what the Manson Family did in the homes of their victims, it definitely feels like a quiet nod to the cult and furthers the idea that the clowns on AHS: Cult are in fact real and part of a cult. By now, it’s clear that viewers are meant to question everything Ally sees because of her intense phobia of clowns (and several others things that seem to consume her life), but in the preview for Episode 3, others actually see the smiley face on the front door of their home, which makes you wonder how important the smiley face symbol is going to be this season.

Not only is the smiley face symbol probably a way to be "marked" by the murderers, but it’s also a way for them to mark their territory once they’ve committed their vicious crimes. But now that viewers have seen the symbol multiple times, it confirms a few important things. First, that the clowns are most likely very real and not just in Oz’s imagination or Ally’s hallucinations. Secondly, it also confirms that the clowns are organized enough to be killing for a reason rather than random murders, and it’s also clearer than ever that the "cult" part of AHS: Cult definitely has to do with the clowns and how they’re working together in these murders.

Of course the "why" of it all has yet to be revealed, but with the similarities between the clowns’ actions and those of real life cults, the question of them being real or not has at least been answered for now.

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